The Internal Revenue Service chief counsel’s office in Washington, D.C., which is led by a political appointee of President Barack Obama, was directly involved in orchestrating the byzantine, discriminatory application process that targeted conservative groups seeking nonprofit, tax-exempt status, according to an IRS attorney.
The new information, provided by IRS attorney Carter Hull in interviews with Congressional investigators, represents the closest link (so far) between Obama and the starting point for the IRS’ discriminatory manipulation of political influence during the 2012 election season.
Hull said he had been told by his superiors that the chief counsel’s office wanted to review conservative groups’ applications in order to scrutinize the extent of their political activities. The agency’s chief counsel’s office is led by William J. Wilkins, a 2009 Obama political appointee.
Earlier reports already showed that Wilkins knew about the Tea Party discrimination in August of 2011, even though the IRS continued to target conservative groups well beyond that date. Wilkins also apparently didn’t think to notify the White House about the brewing scandal.
Hull’s information seems to indicate that Wilkins may have played a larger role in perpetrating the scandal than first reported. The IRS had said Wilkins wasn’t aware of the discrimination until the scandal broke this year, directly contradicting Hull’s revelation to members of Congress.
As chief counselor, Wilkins is one of the two Presidential appointees who hold positions within the IRS. The commissioner is the other. Douglas Shulman, who was appointed by George W. Bush, held that post from March 2008 until November 2012 — shortly before the start of Obama’s second term and only months before the scandal broke. His successor, Steven Miller, served as acting commissioner only until May of this year before resigning.
It’s fair to say that current acting commissioner Danny Werfel has inherited a mess.